17 top British historic TV and film locations to visit in 2014

Ever wondered where the best costume dramas and fantasy films were shot? Read on for some of the most impressive properties and old sites throughout the UK, as seen in Sherlock, Harry Potter, Downton Abbey, Pride and Prejudice and more…

The UK is jam-packed with eerie abodes, royal stately properties and historic sites shrouded in mystery and legend. Below, we’ve listed 17 of our favourites, all of which are open to visitors so you can experience them in real life…


1. Antony House, Cornwall, from Alice in Wonderland

Home to the Carew Pole family, this 18th-century house was taken over in 2010 by Tim Burton and his crew. In the Alice in Wonderland film, we can see Antony House when Alice is proposed to in the garden, in front of a crowd of spectators. She later runs off, finds the rabbit hole, and then falls in. Today visitors can wander around the grounds and explore the cultivated gardens and sculptures. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/antony

2. The Historic Dockyard, Chatham, Kent, from Sherlock and Call the Midwife

This giant 400-acre space was used by the Royal Navy several hundred years ago. Although it closed in 1984, part of the area has been transformed for visitors, who can come to see historic warships, Georgian rope factories, submarines and the shooting location for period dramas such as Mr Selfridge, Les Miserables, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Call the Midwife and, more recently, Meryl Streep’s new movie Suffragette, among others. www.thedockyard.co.uk

3. Alnwick Castle, Northumberland, from Harry Potter

This beautiful 14th-century keep is still owned by the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, and is recognisable as Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter movies. Alnwick is in the background during many dramatic scenes including the Quidditch games. Visitors can actually take part in a broomstick training session in the very spot where Harry had his first lesson. Other activities include stateroom tours, artisan craft making and sword juggling shows. This same location was also been used in movies Becket, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Ivanhoe, and Elizabeth. www.alnwickcastle.com

4. Royal Naval College, Greenwich, from Les Misérables

This stunning building on the Thames has become a filming hub in recent years. Blockbusters to utilise this impressive site include Les Misérables, Skyfall, Sherlock Holmes, The King’s Speech, The Mummy Returns, The Duchess, and The Golden Compass, among handfuls of others. The site is well and truly open for visitors, who can amble around Sir Christopher Wren’s twin-domed creation, the spectacular Chapel and Painted Hall – recognisable from Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, The Madness Of King George, and more recently scenes from Thor: The Dark World. www.ornc.org

5. Stonehenge, Wiltshire, from Doctor Who and Tess of the D’Urbervilles

As one of the most famous sites in the world, it’s no surprise that movie directors come from far and wide to get these monoliths in their frames. This spot has featured on dramas closer to home too – it served as the burial site of the Pandorica (underground prison) in Doctor Who. Here, we see Matt Smith stand on one of the stones and give a speech to all the baddies as they whiz about above him. The BBC mini-series Tess of the D’Urbervilles also filmed here, we see Gemma Arterton as Tess Durbeyfield and Eddie Redmayne as Angel Clare have a smooch among the rocks. In real life, people come to visit this mysterious site, because it’s unfathomably old. Archaeologist bods believe it was created around 3000 BC to 2000 BC and others think there is a strange spiritual significance to the area. www.english-heritage.org.uk

6. Highclere Castle, Berkshire, from Downton Abbey

The 5,000-acre estate and Jacobethan castle shot to fame due to ITV’s hit series about British class. In fact, Downton could well have saved the property, owned by the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, from closure. It needed £11.75 million worth of repairs prior to the series. Now the striking property has up to 1200 visitors per day, all paying an entrance fee, which contributes to the upkeep of the grounds. Guests can wander about upstairs and downstairs and experience extravagant rooms such as the saloon, with its intricate details designed for the 4th Earl by Thomas Allom; the library, complete with 5,650 books; and the drawing room, dressed in green French silk. www.highclerecastle.co.uk

7. Castle Ward, County Down, Northern Ireland, from Game of Thrones

This 18th-century National Trust property was used as a setting for HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones. It doubles as Stark Castle in Winterfell, and the courtyard scenes from series one. Here we watch Brandon Stark practise his bow and arrow while Jon Snow and Robb Stark watch. These same grounds are also used when Robert Baratheon returns to Winterfell and meets Ned Stark. It’s possible to visit this striking property with its mixture of Gothic and classical styles, and take part in special interactive days, when visitors can dress up in the period garb and act out their own historic scenes. www.nationaltrust.org.uk

8. Culzean Castle, Scotland, The Queen

Helen Mirren’s Oscar-winning depiction of our head of state took place at this dramatic cliff-top setting, the former home of the Marquess of Ailsa. Scenes from The Wicker Man with Edward Woodward were also filmed here. Surrounded by Culzean Country Park, the castle is set on the Ayrshire coast and overlooks the tempestuous sea and rolling green Arran Mountains. Step inside for a taste of the high life, a curving double staircase, and to view period objects from the past. www.nts.org.uk

9. Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, Pride and Prejudice

Featured in the 2005 film Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Matthew Macfadyen, Chatsworth doubled as Pemberley – Mr Darcy’s grand residence. It’s believed that Jane Austen drew inspiration for the novel from Chatsworth while visiting the area in the early 19th century. The grand staircase and ceiling of the Painted Hall from the movie still remain (from the scene where Elizabeth and the Gardiners begin their tour of Pemberley). Meanwhile, the Sculpture Gallery features when Elizabeth Bennet sees the bust of Mr Darcy. The bust still remains in the property, and visitors can snap a picture with it during a visit. More recently, the three-part BBC period drama and murder mystery Death Comes to Pemberley was filmed in Chatsworth’s grounds. The exterior can be seen throughout the series. www.chatsworth.org

10. Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire, from The History Boys

A medieval deer park, 12th-century abbey and a Cistercian corn mill make up this fascinating site, which featured on the 2006 British film The History Boys, starring Dominic Cooper, James Corden and Richard Griffiths. The Fountains Abbey doubled as the setting of a school visit in the movie, in which two teachers try and get the boys interested in history and increase their chances of getting a place at Oxbridge. The final scenes of Omen III: The Final Conflict, and scenes from The Secret Garden were also captured here. Founded in 1132, the abbey operated for more than 400 years, until Henry VIII ordered the monasteries to be shut. It’s still possible to take a stroll around the structure and go into the arched chambers and halls. www.fountainsabbey.org.uk

11. Ham House, Surrey, from Anna Karenina

This 17th century period mansion in Richmond-upon-Thames doubled as the grand Russian apartments in the 2012 movie Anna Karenina – a tale about love and adultery. The property’s Long Gallery was used for Vronsky’s 19th century St Petersburg apartments. Inside, visitors will be rewarded with opulent Baroque decor, fine oil paintings and parquet floor, plus the opportunity to spot a ghost – it’s regarded as one of the most haunted houses in the UK. Other film shoots include Disney’s John Carter, Never Let Me Go and The Young Victoria. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ham-house

12. Osterley, London, The Dark Knight Rises

Otherwise known as Wayne Manor, Christian Bale and Michael Caine took over this Georgian country house for a week of filming for the 2012 Batman movie. The library in this huge house must be your first point of call, hidden behind a door in the bookcase is a secret passage that was used when filming the bat cave, then follow it by the 130ft Long Gallery, decadent staircase and overwhelming entrance hall. Scenes from The Young Victoria, Miss Potter and Edge of Love were also set here. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/osterley-park

13. Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire, from The Duchess

Keira Knightley’s 18th century-set blockbuster was filmed here over four weeks in 2007, using more than six rooms in the estate. Elaborate details were added to already decadent rooms, to create that over-the-top air of opulence aristocrat Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire would have been accustomed to. Those who visit will recognise the pillared walkway, house exterior and library from the movie. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kedleston-hal

14. Ely CathedralCambridgeshire, The King’s Speech

Founded in 673 by St. Etheldreda, the daughter of an Anglo-Saxon King, this intricate church carved from Purbeck Marble, was used to film scenes from Colin Firth’s 2010 historical drama about King George VI. Ely Cathedral stood in for Westminster Abbey in the movie, it also featured in Elizabeth: The Golden Age and The Other Boleyn Girl. Inside the Gothic arches guests will find religious paintings on the ceiling created by Henry Le Strange and Thomas Gambier, and a rare octagonal lantern, built when the old tower collapsed in 1322. www.elycathedral.org

15. Knole, Kent, from Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

In the Sherlock sequel movie, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Knole is transformed into the courtyard of a Swiss Castle. Professor Moriarty (played by Jared Harris) is seen entering Knole’s Stone Court in the movie. Meanwhile, Geoffrey Rush also filmed scenes for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides here, as Captain Barbossa. Scenes from The Other Boleyn Girl were also captured here. Knole is still one of England’s largest houses, and at one point had had 365 rooms, 52 staircases, 12 entrances and seven courtyards. Now this Elizabethan property is looked after by the National Trust, it’s possible to wander around this vast 1,000 acre estate and experience how the other half lived. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/knole

16. Broughton Castle, Oxfordshire, Shakespeare In Love

Much of this historic house, owned by the Fiennes family, Barons Saye and Sele, was built in 1306, but later editions such as the gatehouse came in the early fifteenth century. In the movie, we can see Broughton in the backdrop as Viola De Lesseps (played by Gwyneth Paltrow) stands on her balcony and says “Romeo Romeo, a young man of Verona.” And Shakespere (played by Joseph Fiennes) appears in the cultivated gardens below. Scenes from The Madness of King George and episodes of Noel’s House Party also took place here, visit on selected bank holidays. www.broughtoncastle.com/

17. Castle Howard, Yorkshire, Brideshead Revisited

Home of the Howard family for more than 300 years, this magnificent 18th century residence was used as a filming location for both the Granada Television’s 1981 adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited and the two-hour 2008 movie of the same name. You may also recognise the exterior from Lady Lyndon’s estate in Stanley Kubrick’s 1975 film Barry Lyndon. The property holds year-round exhibitions and allows entrance to certain areas of the house, where visitors can spy original four-poster beds with gold trimming, historic paintings, rich green parlours, painted domed roofs and countless busts of noblemen throughout the ages. www.castlehoward.co.uk/


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